Ever since I was a child, I have been prone to viral infections. My doctor used to prescribe antibiotics for everything from a runny nose to a scratchy throat, from a mild fever to bronchitis. Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in the 1940s and used it to treat deadly bacterial infections, physicians have been prescribing variations of this ‘wonder drug’ for all kinds of infections.
As with virtually everything in today’s society, the pendulum is swinging… from death by influenza predating the 1940s, we are now on the brink of entering the Twilight Zone era of death by antibiotic-resistant super bugs.
“But I hardly every get sick and when I do, my doctor doesn’t give me antibiotics unless I REALLY need them”, you say. And my reply to you is “That’s great!” But… (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
The March 21, 2013 edition of The Toronto Star ran an editorial titled: Antibiotic Resistance – The bugs come back. Why? Because we are eating antibiotics for lunch and dinner. The editorial called for the Ontario government to ban the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food: cattle, chickens, turkeys, pigs. Farmers routinely mix antibiotics into the animals’ feed, as a precautionary measure – needed, in part, because of the overcrowding and other unpalatable conditions in which the animals are raised. (It’s enough to make you turn vegetarian, if you investigate further. Even the subway ads can turn your stomach. Say, I wonder if that’s why there are so many delays due to ‘passenger assistance alarms’ being activated on trains… people passing out after reading these posters. But I digress…)
This is not merely a Canadian, or American, or North American problem. Sally Davies, Britain’s chief medical officer, predicts that the overuse of antibiotics could lead to “an apocalyptic scenario in which routine infections will become deadly.”
Caveat emptor only works if the choices are reasonable. Meat protein is essential for optimum health in most human beings. Yet many of us can’t afford the sky-high prices charged for ‘all natural, grain fed, antibiotic free’ meat offered by organic farms.
Does this mean that to eat well is to die poor or die young, depending on your tax bracket? I am blessed to live somewhere in the middle of the scale. But I’ll tell you, legumes and tofu are starting to look better and better…